The head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Thursday claims by the United States that his group took weapons deliveries from North Korea are "nothing more than gossip and speculation."
"Everyone knows that it's been a long time since North Korea has supplied weapons to the Russian Federation," Prigozhin said in a statement published on his Telegram channel. "And no other such attempts have even been made. Therefore, these arms deliveries from the DPRK are nothing more than gossip and speculation."
"On our behalf, I want to stress that - and I've already answered this question today - we buy quite a lot of American weapons. And that is why my lawyers will more than likely take an active part in the process to lift the U.S. sanctions on the supply of weapons to the Wagner PMC," he said.
"We believe these restrictions are completely unfair, due to the fact that Wagner PMC has never violated international trade rules when buying the US weapons," Prigozhin said.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Kirby makes a lot of statements based on speculation," Prigozhin said in response to remarks by the strategic communications coordinator at the US National Security Council John Kirby.
Earlier Thursday Kirby said that "it's pretty apparent to us that Wagner is emerging as a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian Ministries” and that it is recruiting convicts, including some with serious medical conditions.